GHS Neighbor: Hillside Road is An Accident Waiting to Happen

Letter to the editor submitted by Ashley Cole, March 21, 2018

To the editor:

I moved here 18 years ago from North Carolina. My husband had accepted a job in New York City and I was very worried about leaving my beautiful state to try and replicate my life in the New York Metro area. It is an old family story now – how I landed in New York and looked at communities all weekend, started crying and didn’t stop – until we came to Greenwich.

I felt it once we crossed the Connecticut line. Like a breath of fresh air Greenwich opened up and instantly I could feel the difference. Open spaces, a charming downtown, historic houses both quaint and grand. Greenwich offered a connection with nature, with rolling hills and miles of coastline. There was an emphasis on community and education and gracious living. I thought I could do this – I could live here. Greenwich was livable. So I adopted Greenwich as my town. I’ve raised my family here. I love it here.

But lately I feel our community is at risk. Perhaps you feel it too.

Look at what is happening all over – but especially to our communities that border Greenwich High School. Traffic on Hillside Road has become overwhelming, maintenance on the school has been constantly deferred, promises to our neighborhood ignored. Multiple traffic rules are broken daily here and we have little to no police intervention. I have counted as many as 28 cars double parked on our street! I see illegal U turns daily! Buses let kids out in the middle of the street against all safety laws!

At any given time of day there are 4 lanes of cars on our street – this is not appropriate for a residential zone. Furthermore, the BOE received a zoning variance to build MISA pursuant to a traffic plan that put drop off for students and buses at the back of the school. This traffic plan has never instituted because, well, who knows! – but Chris Winters has called it “inconvenient.”

I would like the entire BOE and Chris Winters to come and try to turn out of my driveway twice a day during school drop off times. Then we can discuss “inconvenient.” I would also like to remind our Town Officials that allowing this situation is so unsafe, it is not a matter “if” an accident happens, but “when.” I would daresay a lawsuit is quite “inconvenient.” How many ways can you say “liability?”

I am concerned that we are not protecting and preserving those very qualities that drew me to Greenwich so many years ago. Hillside, one of the prettiest and most gracious streets in Greenwich is under constant assault and overuse. This lawlessness on our street threatens our quality of life – but also our safety – and the safety of the students.

John Toner once told me that Greenwich is a collection of neighborhoods and they are our treasure. He is so right. If we sacrifice our history and especially our Historic neighborhoods – we will sacrifice the heart and soul of our town, what makes us unique, special and desirable as a place to live. We don’t want to turn into Scarsdale.

It is time for the Board of Education to take action. The responsibility to this neighborhood and to the students is not being met. Why aren’t the buses, which we pay for dearly, meeting the needs of the students? Why isn’t the MISA traffic plan enforced? Why is our street turned into a de-facto parking lot? Why can’t the residents park and have some modicum of control on our own street? Ultimately, the answer lies in the Selectmen’s hands as they are in control of parking and the police.

It is long past time to think out of the box and come up with creative, sensible solutions that make sense for all our citizens. For not only do we need to save a neighborhood whose preservation and safety is crucial to the character of Greenwich – we also need to obey the law.

See also:

GHS Headmaster: Taking away student parking on Hillside Rd does not begin to address congestion

GHS Neighbor: Relieve Hillside Rd Congestion through Time Restrictions on Non-Resident Cars